What is a Will?

A Will in Michigan is capable of doing a number of things. However, generally, it is a legal document that describes how you would like your property distributed after death. In Michigan, a valid will must be signed by you and two witnesses. Michigan law also requires that the person making the will to have “sufficient mental capacity” to make a will. This legal jargon basically means you must understand the Will is intended to distribute your property after death.

What is in a Will?

A Will, whether made in Michigan or not, should include a number of things. There will be a number of common sense things like your name, residence, intent to make a will, intent to revoke any prior wills and list of family members.

A Will can ensure that the rest of your property goes to your spouse. Or, if he/she dies before you, the property can be distributed equally amount your children. If you’d like to leave a special give to a specific person that can also be accomplished in a Will.

A Will will also describe the how payment of debts, expenses and taxes should be handled.

A Will permits you to select someone to serve as a personal representative (sometimes called executor). It can also contain a clause that requires the personal representative to serve with or without bond.

Lastly, a Will allows you to appoint a guardian and conservator for your children under the age of 18.

What if I Don’t Have a Will in Michigan?

If you do not make a Will prior to dying you are considered to have died “intestate.” If you do not have a Will, and thus died “intestate”, then your property will be distributed according to Michigan law.

Some property is also not subject to probate procedures in Michigan. Property held in a joint bank account; real estate, if your spouse’s name or a joint tenant’s name is on the deed; life insurance benefits (if a person living at the time of your death is a beneficiary); and some other assets that are jointly held or have beneficiary designations.

Can I make changes to my Will?

Yes. A Will has no effect until you die so you can change the Will as often as you like during your lifetime. As things change in life (marriage, divorce, kids, and new business ventures) it’s essential to make the appropriate changes your Will. However, it’s important to do this in a way to limit confusion later.

You can either complete a new Will or have a codicil (amendment to the old Will) or have an entirely different Will drafted. If you do sign a new Will, make sure to destroy copies of the old Will.

Above is a very broad overview of Wills in Michigan. It does not include the different types of Wills available in Michigan. Each type is equally valid if done precisely in accordance with Michigan law. Each person’s situation is unique so it’s important to contact an attorney in order to find out if a Will is right for you.